2016 White House race takes shape

By Michael Mathes ,AFP

WASHINGTON — There are no official candidates so far in the 2016 race for the White House, but one year ahead of the party primaries, the field is filling up, with new faces and some familiar names: Clinton, Bush and Romney. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the runaway frontrunner. But in 2007, she entered the primaries as the favorite, only to finish second fiddle to Barack Obama. When will the most watched woman in politics make her announcement? Most likely in the spring, campaign-watchers speculate, with some narrowing it down to April. Harbingers abound: a handful of likely advisors are believed to have already signed on to an expected Clinton campaign. While Clinton lurks, a major prospective rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren, appeared to withdraw from a potential candidacy. Asked by Forbes magazine recently if she would run for president, Warren �X hailed by progressives for her crusade against Wall Street excesses �X simply answered ��No.��

Romney Redux While Jeb Bush hogged the presidential spotlight last month, announcing he was actively considering a bid, January has belonged to Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor failed to gain traction in the 2008 presidential primaries and then as the Republican nominee lost to Obama in 2012. Denying for months his interest in a third challenge, he has begun to tell supporters and donors he is seriously interested in another White House run. ��I think he is pretty far on in terms of his consideration,�� Thomas Rath, a consultant on two Romney campaigns who recently received a phone call from Romney, told AFP. ��I would expect the answer to come in the closer term rather than the longer term,�� Rath added. ��He thinks he has a lot to offer and that he would like to serve, and that he’s willing to go through this incredible, difficult campaign to try it again.�� Romney may elaborate on his thinking Friday, when he addresses a Republican National Committee meeting. One advantage, said Rath, is that Romney ��doesn’t have the learning curve that some candidates might have to have.�� It is rare in U.S. politics for an also-ran to reverse his fortunes and win the White House, although Richard Nixon, defeated in 1960, won the presidency eight years later. And Ronald Reagan, who lost primary races in 1968 and 1976, was elected in 1980. ��From the standpoint of Mitt Romney, there’s no incumbent, so the field is wide open. There’s no clear frontrunner on the Republican side, and Republicans see Hillary Clinton as someone who can be beat,�� said Antoine Yoshinaka, assistant professor at American University. But can Romney, whose image took a battering as an out-of-touch multi-millionaire, restore his economic message? ��Every presidential candidate is going to have to bring to the campaign trail a discussion on how they’re going to improve the quality of life for the middle class,�� Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who also received a Romney call, told AFP.